I am diverging from my usual focus of institutional race issues to share my thoughts on the recently-released Mueller Report. I am stepping outside of the subject matter typically discussed here and allowing myself to engage with my legal and political analyst (read: junky) self. Because this is really important.
I believe the gravity of the facts contained within the Report and the social and political implications for the country require us all to take the finding seriously and govern ourselves accordingly.
I have read the entire Mueller Report. It is a very dense, although relatively readable document. Its findings are not debatable (so please cease with the “if this turns out to be true,” nonsense). Each point in the Report is supported with documentation, testimony, and additional evidence.
I encourage everyone interested in taking part in the political discussion/debate regarding next steps to read the entire Report. If you don’t have time, Slate has published an audio recitation of the Executive Summaries from the Report, which are a great summation of the Report’s findings.
There are innumerable specific and detailed facts that will undoubtedly be chased down and explored by the the media and the government. With that in mind, here are my main, high-level takeaways:
• Preliminarily, Attorney General William Barr has blatantly misled the American people and has been working very hard on Trump’s behalf to soften the blow of the Report (primarily via his 4-page “summary” and weird press conference, hours before the Report’s release)
• Russia interfered with our election—way more than was previously known to the public, and particularly in the few states (MI, PA, and WI) that tipped the election in Trump's favor. Russian-backed trolls targeted 36-social media campaigns at Michigan voters, 25 in Pennsylvania and 54 in Wisconsin.
• There was insufficient evidence to support a case for criminal conspiracy to affect the election between Trump/Trump administration and the Russians, although the Report gives a significant amount of troubling information related to those allegations (e.g., Mueller could not prove that Don Jr. and others at the Trump Tower meeting with Russians “had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.”)
• The Report did find, however, that Trump lied to the American people about the real reason for that meeting.
• Trump tried, on multiple occasions (10+ times), to influence or end the investigation. His efforts to end/obstruct the investigation—including instructing WH Counsel to fire Mueller and instructing AG Sessions to limit to scope of the investigation to future elections—were unsuccessful in large part because his subordinate refused to carry out his orders.
• Regarding obstruction of justice, the Report states, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
• Trump ordered senior members of his administration to lie to the American people on multiple occasions. And they did.
• White House Press Secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders lied repeatedly to the American public. Sarah Sanders continues to lie to the American people.
• The Report identifies Trump’s written answers (which state over 30 times that Trump did not recall/remember) as “inadequate” and states that Mueller chose not to subpoena Trump to testify because it would have caused undue delay. The Report also states that Mueller’s team had enough additional information to move forward, without Trump’s sworn, in-person testimony.
• There are 12 additional cases (previously unknown to us), outsourced to prosecutors in other jurisdictions, which I presume relate to Trump/Trump family ties to Deutsche Bank, ties with Russia relating to Trump Tower Moscow, and/or Trump/Kushner ties with Saudi Arabia, illegal hush money payments to women, etc.
• Trump's previous personal lawyers never took notes. This says a lot about the type of activity his attorneys were facilitating and the types of things they did not want memorialized in writing.
• The Report confirmed as true nearly all of the blockbuster political news stories (and books) published over the last two years, most of which had been labeled “fake news” by Trump and his supporters.
All things considered, the Report reads like an impeachment referral to Congress. Mueller states, multiple times, that Congress has the authority to address the listed abuses by the Chief Executive. Despite the open and obvious “high crimes and misdemeanors” committed, all of which are set forth in the Report, impeachment efforts will be futile: as soon as the Senate refuses to convict, Trump, McConnell, and the entire Fox News apparatus will use the Senate’s refusal to convict as a “not guilty” judgment and proclaim that from the rooftops.
Moving forward, the Democrats should highlight not only the countless abuses of power, but also the absolute chaos within the White House, as they move forward with the 2020 election. It’s also worth noting what our reaction to all of this would have been if we had discovered all of this information at once, instead of via two years of news media coverage.
Our president has committed multiple crimes, including obstruction, while in office. He has clearly demonstrated that he is unfit for the office he holds. This is not meant as an ad hominem attack on the president. It’s an observation based in fact. It’s also clear that he had no real desire to become president, never thought he would win, and was using the campaign to promote and expand his brand. He continues to use his office to benefit himself financially, while refusing to release his tax returns and financial records, as is the norm and expectation. All the while, he creates “emergencies” (remember the National Emergency re: immigration?) to distract from his underlying criminality and unethical behavior.
Donald Trump embodies the worst parts of American business (tax and financial fraud), politics (failure to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution; abuses of power; challenges to our system of justice), and media (complete collaboration with one of the largest cable news outlets, which blatantly lies and fails to cover anything perceived as negative for the president).
But we already knew this.
Insofar as the Mueller Report can now be relied upon to support the position that Trump has committed multiple crimes while in office and is unfit for office for a multitude of reasons, I’m glad the Report has been released. What the Democrats do with the information they’ve been given, and the information in the Report that has been redacted, will determine the country’s political future.